Solear en Rama Autumn 2018 – the Northern Gannet

It’s a surprisingly handsome bird the Northern Gannet – its Spanish name “Alcatraz Atlantico – does it more justice, but it is still not a patch on the wine it graces the label of.

This is yet another absolute beauty of a manzanilla off this formidable production line. Gorgeous gold colour, intensely herbal nose, a zingy, yeasty, and maybe a little jammy palate, then fading to bitter salad flavours and a spicey, salty finish.

Really remarkable how intense the flavours of these wines are. Top quality.

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Solear en rama – Summer 2018 – the Black Eared Wheatear

A fellas timeline has had more manzanilla lately than his waistline. Something had to be done, and although it may be a saca from the summer this is a perfect winter manzanilla – a bit burnt on top then real heat from the spicy sapidity and salinity.

Feisty stuff – is it feistier than usual or am I just out of practice? In any event I need to get back into practice

Manzanilla de Añada 2012 – 4/11

It is amazing to think how the world has changed in only a few years. In 2012 when the Blanco brothers and Ramiro Ibañez decided to put aside 11 botas of palomino after a bumper harvest at Callejuela there were very few “añada” wines knocking around – at least of this kind – and very few vineyard specific wines too. In fact I can still remember the excitement of waiting for that first bota to be bottled.

Nowadays there are a few more añada wines, and little by little you see more mentions of vineyards on labels, to the point where this little series has to share the limelight.

But the beauty of these wines is that they are not just from a specific vintage and place: they are eleven botas from a vintage and place that emerge year by year and show perfectly what that time in the bota can do.

This, the 4th bota to be bottled, has had nearly six years of static ageing and is an absolute beauty of a manzanilla. A rich nose of haybales and a hint of old apples, a sharp saline start, raw almonds with a suggestion of fruity oxidation on the palate and then that fresh, mouth-watering finish.

An absolute gem and I wish I had more of it. Roll on number 5!

Manzanilla Deliciosa en rama, May 2016

Look at the colour of that. Rusty water, with a touch of rusty nail on the nose and palate (or is it suggestion?). Couldn’t help but think of the manzanilla en rama la Guita when I saw it, although unlike that second cousin this wine has acquired its colour from two years in the bottle – as you can see if you compare it to how it was two years ago.

Interesting to compare that note with this wine – this is still aromatic and yeasty, but a touch sour, slightly more mulchy haybales on the nose and a lower register in fruit flavours. Very enjoyable with the oxidation and a fun thing to try (here in Zalamero Taberna by the glass).

Delicious little bottle.

Manzanilla Solear en Rama Autumn 2017 – the Iberian Lynx

Back in Madrid and back in business with this superb little bottle. I remember being slightly underwhelmed when this came out – the wine not quite living up to its majestic label – but after a year in the bottle and a few weeks in which the sherry levels in my bloodstream have dropped to dangerous low levels this is absolutely delicious.

Aromatic like a hayloft after a rainstorm, zingy and sharply saline, packed with vegetable flavour and spice. Love it.

Manzanilla Viva la Pepa, de los 50

A sip of something fine, elegant, mellow, dry and just slightly peppery, like the refined idea of a manzanilla, or maybe the idea of a refined manzanilla.

It really was a beautiful thing to drink, and even if some of the other wines we had during a fantastic dinner at A’Barra may have had more complexity, the purity and elegance of this, and the clarity with which it was presented was truly memorable. This kind of thing is usually is a long way from my personal preference (I tend to enjoy a punchy, corpulent older than average fino or manzanilla pasada) but I would drink this any day of the week and what a testament to the skill of the sommelier and his staff.

Magical stuff. Viva la Pepa!

Los dos ma’res again

Another crack at these, this time at the bar of Angelita. They are two wines sourced from the same solera (none other than the Solear en Rama) but at opposite ends of the building (the famous Arboledilla bodega), the idea being to demonstrate the effects on the wine of the microclimates within the building itself due to the different prevailing winds (poniente the sea breeze, levante the land breeze). (By the way the “two ma’res” reference is to a cracking joke by Primitivo Collantes which would take so long to explain it would lose its spontaneity.)

Big difference in colour, open a little while and the difference between the two seems to have yawned wider. The Poniente finer and sleeker, the Levante more boisterous. I bitterly regret not trying to find a contemporaneous saca of the Solear en Rama itself to complete the comparisons.

Nevertheless it is a fantastic little bottling and fascinating for any self respecting sherry nerd (and if you are reading this, well I suppose there is no guarantee of self respect but …). Brilliant stuff and a recent prize for Barbadillo as “most innovative bodega” is well earned imho.